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National Guard to assist OSH with staffing crisis

Thursday, June 3, 2021

On Monday, June 7, 30 members of the National Guard will begin their training at the OSH Salem Campus to help with the hospital's staffing shortfall resulting from COVID-19-related absences. They will help provide care on patient units through July 31.

“It's always an honor to partner and support our fellow state agencies and fellow Oregonians," said Maj. Stephen Bomar, Director of Public Affairs, Oregon Military Department.

For the past several months, Oregon State Hospital has struggled to maintain established staffing levels — largely due to the pandemic. Many people are unable to work because they're taking care of loved ones or because they lost their childcare. In recent weeks, about 33 percent of the hospital's Nursing staff have been out on COVID-related leave.

“Getting this help from the National Guard means the world to me and to the OSH community," said Superintendent Dolly Matteucci. “Our patients deserve the best possible care, and with the National Guard's help, we're taking an important step in the right direction."

Oregon State Hospital requested help from the National Guard in late May after exhausting all other options to bolster staffing levels. This includes deploying people from throughout the hospital to work on the units, offering overtime pay, accelerating the hiring process, hiring temporary workers, and signing additional contracts for agency staff.

The National Guard members have various levels of experience, and they will work alongside seasoned staff to serve patient meals, escort patients to treatment activities, provide activities on the unit, and assist patients with activities of daily living.

Before they work on the units, they will complete four days of New Employee Orientation and nine days of onboarding to learn basic nursing duties — including training on how to deescalate and respond to behavioral emergencies. Then, they will complete 40 hours of on-unit orientation with a staff mentor.



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